As a Tallahassee native, I have taken my fair share of planned and spontaneous trips to nearby towns. Luckily for me (and you), there are dozens of small towns within a short driving distance from the FSU’s campus that you can explore during any season. This fall, there are seven amazing contenders for a fun weekend away from school, and I will tell you why.
1. Thomasville, GA
Thomasville, Georgia is one of my personal favorite places to spend a weekend outside of Tallahassee. It’s only about a 30 to 40 minute drive from campus to the heart of downtown. It’s an absolutely adorable place straight out of a Hallmark movie. It has many boutiques for shopping, several amazing coffee shops, some great dinner places, and a local bookstore called The Bookshelf. Sometimes I’ll even drive up there during the week to sit and do homework in the Grassroots café; the small Georgia town just clears my head.
Another great thing about Thomasville is that there is always so much going on. This October they are hosting a 5K run, a BBQ festival, a music festival, a city trick-or-treat event, an art festival, and their monthly First Friday Sip and Shop. Their city calendar is always bursting with fun opportunities that are worth the drive. If you do make the trip up, I also recommend stopping by the historic “big oak.” This oak tree is more than just big; it’s giant, and it’s dated to be from the 1600s. It’s so big that many United States presidents even visited it, and it is one of the biggest oak trees in the South. While this may not sound that interesting, it’s a pillar of nature that is beautiful to walk around, especially in the fall or when lit up by lights in December.
2. Bainbridge, Ga
Bainbridge is another southern Georgia town that is too cute not to visit. It is fairly close to Thomasville, so I recommend waking up early and spending a day or weekend visiting both at the same time. It’s another wonderful place teeming with history and old houses. The antique shops are a treasure, and they have their fair share of southern boutiques as well. The American is an amazing restaurant that I highly recommend if you want to go somewhere nice, and Sio’s is a cute locally-owned wine bar that has great food and is decorated in almost all pink. Bainbridge should be on your calendar this fall because they have two great events soon: the River South Music Festival and the Scare on the Square Halloween event.
3. Apalachicola, Fl
Apalachicola, Florida, also called “Apalach,” is one of the best towns on the Forgotten Coast of the Florida Panhandle. Although it is an hour and a half drive from the FSU campus, it is definitely worth a day trip or overnight stay! The city is filled with historical charm but is still a fun destination full of lots of shopping, festivals, and tasty food. From jewelry and boutiques to pottery and fresh ground coffee, this is a small-town lover’s dream. The coast of Apalach Bay is famous for its seafood (specifically oysters) and has several nationally acclaimed restaurants and breweries if you’re over 21. You can even rent motorboats and kayaks for fishing or go on a nice riverboat cruise around the bay.
Although it might not be the way to spend your usual fall weekend, Apalach houses the extremely famous Apalachicola Seafood Festival in November. The charming town holds this event every year and people all throughout the South travel to participate. If a seafood festival isn’t your vibe, they have lots of fun holiday events throughout December and an oyster cookoff in early January.
4. St. George Island, Fl
St. George Island, Florida is the perfect beach to go to for just a short drive this fall. Why would you go to the beach in the cold? For the vibes of course. Go to Trader Joe’s and grab some pumpkin cookies, bring some blankets, and dress cute to go have a picnic with your friends. However, there is much more to do in St. George other than going to the beach. Shop until you drop in the cutest boutiques and handmade stores, or have a tasty dinner watching the sunset by the Gulf. For outdoor adventures, bring your pet to run around in the sand, or take your bike to the state park and ride around! Also, be on the lookout for the annual Rock by the Sea charity music festival, and the Chili Cookoff in March.
If you have already visited all of these towns and are looking for something a little bit smaller and local, check out these other recommendations!
5. Monticello, FL, 6. Havana, FL, and 7. Valdosta, GA
Monticello, FL is a local favorite city with great food (one of the restaurants even accepts FSU Dining Dollars) and blueberry picking depending on the season. Havana, FL is a cute community with lots of farmland, antique shopping, and a tasty coffee shop and bakery. Valdosta, GA is a small southern college town, home to Valdosta State University, a fun downtown, and an inexpensive theme park called Wild Adventures.
From my experience, there is no better way to fight a weekend of boredom than a girl’s trip to one of these cute towns!